March 4, 2022

Cleaning vital for heritage seeds

Heritage seeds could be grown commercially in vertical farms if the final source of disease - the seed - can be cleaned effectively with Zayndu's plasma tech

Heritage seeds could be grown commercially in vertical farms if the final source of disease - the seed - can be cleaned effectively. To evaluate the potential of its cold-plasma seed cleaning technology for speciality seeds, Zayndu is collaborating with Vertical Future and NIAB on the CEA Heirloom Optimisation & Pathogen Control for Seeds (CHOPS) project.

Older varieties of seed may offer the opportunity for better taste but can be difficult to grow successfully in commercial environments.

Over the years, seed breeders have worked hard to create varieties of lettuce that are resilient to disease and have consistent germination and growth, but in many cases this has compromised the flavour and potentially the nutritional value of the salad crop.

Controlled Environment Agriculture creates a growing space that is free from pests and disease and can be optimised to provide the ideal growing conditions; paving the way for heritage varieties to be produced commercially.

The seed is produced externally and so provides a vector for disease, this makes cleaning the seed vital as Vertical Future research officer Dr Jen Bromley explained to George Nott of The Grocer: "The outer shell of the seed is now the main source of disease that enters a CEA production. When a disease takes hold in CEA, it can be devastating as the conditions that a plant thrives in are the same for a fungus or bacteria.”

Heritage varieties from Shakespeare's time

Viroflay Spinach, is a variety from the 1600s that is among several heirloom varieties being trialled in the CHOPS project. It will be cleaned with Zayndu's technology which uses a plasma instead of chemicals and leaves no residues.

The CHOPS project is already revealing promising results, and these were discussed by Ralph Weir at the Global Vertical Farming Expo.

Vertical Future CEO Jamie Burrows talked about the CHOPS project and the importance of Zayndu's no-chemical approach to seed cleaning in this interview with the Grocer.

Vertical Future interview in the Grocer: https://bit.ly/35nit5y

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